Hopefully, most people that become Doctors, want to be Doctors. If someone is going to go digging around in my belly, I want them to enjoy what they’re doing and not wish they were out leading a group of fisherman on a flounder trip.
I feel the same way about Energy Auditors, anyone that is going to test my furnace for killer gases and inefficiency, better like what they’re doing. I don’t want an auditor dreaming about moonlighting as a massage therapist and missing the big hole in my heating duct. An auditor that shows up at the door with a baby blue company shirt that has a professional logo on the chest that says RESNET ( or something similar ), a clip board, and a ladder, should be qualified and hopefully enjoy finding energy savings opportunities and areas of energy waste.
A good auditor will have the ability to talk the walk, test everything in sight and measure everything not in sight. With a number of tools ( that you have never seen before ) with names like monometer and fyrite-pro, he or she will be able to tell you the difference in air pressure in Pascal’s, the presence of CO in parts per million and the size of an air leak in cubic feet per minute. And when all the data is collected and recorded, the auditor has the ability, and the pure joy, of telling you exactly why your heat pump freezes, your ducts suck, and your power bill is dragging you to the poor house.
Variety of License and Certificates:
Several nationwide companies have developed training and certification programs that offer recognition for residential energy auditors. RESNET ( Residential Energy Services Network ) was established in 1995 by the National Association of State Energy Officials to develop the standard for a home energy rating system.
The other main auditor training program is BPI ( Building Performance Institute ). Along with these two programs, RESNET and BPI, many State and local agencies will offer home performance training of their own design that concludes with a certificate and the knowledge of how to operate and test with the specialized equipment available to an inspector.
Two year degrees are offered at a number of Colleges in building performance and offer a more in-depth and wide knowledge base than is offered by the 3 or 4 week RESNET courses. If a auditor is really going to get serious about saving energy and want the big bucks available by performing energy audits on high rise office buildings and manufacturing plants, than a four year degree is needed in the field of energy engineering. I am doubtful that you or I will see a true Energy Engineer on our front porch with a smoke stick and an infrared camera, but one never really knows.
Energy Efficient Retrofits and Cost Effective Calculations:
The main reason for performing an energy audit on a home is to prioritize a list of energy efficient retrofits and to establish the associated cost effectiveness or payback period. An auditor will test and collect data in an effort to discover where the most energy can be saved and which retrofits will save you the most money – and do it with the least amount of financial investment.
Here are a few more things that an auditor will be able to complete during an energy audit.
- Evaluate each major appliance for rate of energy consumption. You and I can spot an old energy hog refrigerator a mile away, but the energy auditor will be able to add type, size, condition, modified energy factor, and yearly kilowatt hours used to the deal.
- Recommend appropriate energy conservation measures along with associated maintenance procedures. Just because you install a new furnace doesn’t mean you don’t need to know how and when to clean or replace the furnace filter.
- Estimate labor and material costs on retrofit projects. Just how much will it cost to replace the metal framed, single pane, obscure glass, single hung window in the bathroom with a new vinyl framed, double glazed, low-E, U-30 window considering the 8″ hard plank lap siding and the brick moulding trim?
- Project the monthly savings expected from a particular energy retrofit. How many kilowatt hours of electricity will be save if R-25 insulation is installed in an underfloor that has no insulation?
- Point out, avoid, and mediate potential health and safety problems. You know, it’s not really a good idea to have an old gas fired water heater in your master bedroom closet.
- The energy auditor will be able to instruct the household on behavior that wastes energy, like running around the house in a bikini in January with the thermostat set on 82 degrees. This behavior might remind you of your vacation in Hawaii, but at the end of the month, the power bill will remind you of the advantage of wool sweaters and thermal socks.
Quality Assurance Inspections:
You will be amazed at the number of residential energy auditors that have home construction experience. Not only do they know how to test for air leakage, but they know how the wall was constructed in the first place. A good energy auditor will not conclude his contribution to your homes energy saving retrofits by handing you a piece of paper with a list of recommendations, but he will follow up on the retrofit process and see that the work is done correctly. Let’s face it, an insulation worker that is paid by the square foot and is one week removed from a bungalow in a neighboring country, may not be interested in the highest degree of work quality and performance.
Some follow-up qualities of a home energy auditor are:
- Inspect the project near completion to check for quality work.
- Verify compliance with the work specifications and see that all work that was scheduled to be done actually got completed.
- Provide some directions and feedback on performance to contractor supervisors.
- Provide detailed procedure for correcting any work that was not completed satisfactorily.
- Emphasize to the residents the importance of continuing and regular maintenance and some TLC.
- Arrange for and schedule future monitoring or maintenance when appropriate.
When you have the energy auditor standing on your front steps and you have approved the patch on his work shirt as being professionally designed and recognizable as a trust worthy organization, the first question you should ask is this, ” What is your mission?”
You might ask, “Why are you here?”, but that could lead to the honest response of, “for the money!” So, let’s take a look at some of the heart-felt ideals that separate Energy Auditors from flounder fisherman, surgeons and massage therapists.
Energy Auditors Mission Statement:
The bottom line is simply – to conserve energy and save money – do just that and most homeowners will be tickled pink.
This one is a little more reminiscent of a die-hard tree hugger, protect the environment by reducing harmful by-products. The by-products we are talking about here are mostly carbon based. When you use more energy than you really need, you cause ridiculous amounts of carbon to be released to the atmosphere.
I like this one and there are no tree huggers insight, increase home comfort. The first indicator of a successful energy saving retrofit is this –the home is more comfortable. The home is warmer, less drafty and quieter.
One of the most important mission statement items involves basic health and safety. For this one, the physician and auditor have something in common. Whatever you do, do no harm. An auditor is trained in combustion appliance safety, mold and mildew remediation, indoor air quality, ventilation, lead paint hazards and asbestos dangers.
Be a resource for the residents concerning energy products, conservation procedures, and lifestyle contributions. An energy auditor will leave the household a little wiser about all things that effect home energy savings. I trust most auditors learned the benefits of sharing in kindergarten.
When you step up to the cashier at the grocery store, you may have a person ring up your purchase that really does not care to be there. Running a cash register for your toothpaste and potato chips was not in his or her original career plans. Tell the waitress to take the steak back to the kitchen and ask the chef to cook it like you wanted and you’d better be careful, the chef maybe a college student working his way through school and he really doesn’t care if you like the steak or not.
There is a pretty fair chance that the man on your porch with the cool patch on his shirt wants to be there and is determined to save energy because he or she simply believes in it, loves it, and lives it. Saving energy is a passion, a calling, like an emergency room doctor. With home energy auditors, living up to a mission statement comes naturally.